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Why is it important to be able to brainstorm effectively? Well, brainstorming is the foundation for all creative and innovative ideas. Being able to look at a problem and find a solution that not only solves the problem, but does so in an ingenious way can make you an invaluable asset in any business or company. When you can think outside the box, come up with a multitude of high-value ideas, and generate fresh and innovative content you’ll become an essential member of any team.

Today, I’m going to help you become a brainstorming genius. How, you’re wondering..well, I’ve compiled 6 of my favorite tips, tricks, and techniques to help you come up with the best ideas and keep them flowing.

1. Make a Daily Inspiration Checklist


Come up with a series of blogs, online newspapers and magazine that you take time to look at every day. Go through each of these sites every day to discover what’s going on in the world, get inspired, and keep yourself informed. Write down anything you found interesting, informative, or helpful.

Here are some sites that I use for daily inspiration:

  • 500px: Here you’ll find photos taken from creative individuals around the world. Spend time browsing through cool, quirky, and creative images.

  • Creative Market: If you’re a designer or just looking for ways to incorporate beautiful design into all aspects of your daily life, Creative Market is a great resource and inspiration site. You’ll find posts like: 7 Tips for Staying Creative and Models for Decision Making, as well as resources for creating beautiful designs like illustrations, graphics, Photoshop Add-ons and more.

  • COLOURlovers: If you’re looking to get inspired when it comes to color palettes and color schemes, COLOURlovers is your go-to resource. Find thousands of palettes created by others and create your own plattes as well.

  • Design Taxi: This blog, updated daily, features photographers of the week with inspiring images, posts on creativity, inspirational product branding and identity designs, intricate typography, and art. I like browsing this site for inspiring design work that makes me laugh and inspires me. It’s pretty much a site that you can get lost in for hours just discovering cool and quirky design.

  • Gawker Website Family:  Discover the coolest when it comes to recipes and food with FoodGawker, arts and crafts with CraftGawker, and the latest in fashion and style trends with StyleGawker.

  • Hacker News: Discover the latest in Start-Up and related news. Are you a designer, developer, or tech junkie who loves knowing the latest in the start-up world, here you’ll find the latest news!

  • Pinterest: This is a great source of visual inspiration and you can search for anything related to design, photography, or even branding.

  • StumbleUpon: Select your favorite topics and interests and you’ll get to randomly stumble onto sites related to those ideas.

2. Meditate, Relax, and Step-Away

Honestly sometimes coming up with the best ideas is doing exactly the opposite of over-working an idea. Take time to just relax and breathe. Step away from a stressful situation or a problem that you’re having trouble finding a solution to and you may come up with something brilliant.

Three Things You Should Do Every Time You Have a Problem:

  • Meditate: Take a half an hour and do some yoga, listen to a guided meditation, or just light candles and relax on your own.

  • Relax: There will be a solution, even if it doesn’t come right away you’ll figure out the right thing to do and you’ll come up with a great idea. If you’re stressed it’s more likely that the ideas you come up with won’t be the greatest.

  • Step-Away: Completely walk away from a situation whether it be for a few hours or a few days. Take a pause and clear your head, when you come back to it or when you least expect it you may come up with something awesome.

3. Utilize the SCAMPER Brainstorming Approach


The SCAMPER brainstorming approach can be credited to the creative minds of Alex Obsorn and Bob Eberle, to help people look at an existing product, service, or idea that needs improvement or has a problem. It’s meant to be a comprehensive system that allows you to look at a situation from multiple perspectives and determine a solution or future branching ideas. The idea is to look at the existing concept or thing and then ask yourself questions related to the words signified by SCAMPER. For example:

  • Substitute: What could you change or substitute out of this idea to improve it? Can you change your attitude toward it? Can you approach this situation from a different perspective?

  • Combine: Can you utilize multiple people to find a solution? What resources could you bring together to improve this product? Can you combine this product with something else?

  • Adapt: Is this problem or idea like anything else? How can this product stay relevant with changing times? What are the different contexts we can place this idea or product into?

  • Modify: How can we change this idea? Is there a way or reason to change the look, feel, and dynamic of the product? What can we take away from this? What can we add to it?

  • Put to Another Use: Can someone else than the traget audience use this product? Who else can benefit from this idea?

  • Eliminate: What can we take away from this idea? How can we remove certain elements of this product?

  • Reverse: Can someone else help fix a different part of this problem? How could we reorganize this idea to make it better?

All of these questions will not apply to every scenario, so it’s important to think of each word that SCAMPER stands for, and then think about how those words each mean something specific.

4. Group Brainstorming

One of the best ways to brainstorm is to surround yourself with incredibly creative individuals and use your combined mind powers to come up with some genius ideas. It’s important to have group brainstorming sessions that are highly structured so you can accomplish what you need to get done, and you don’t just end up spinning your wheels and getting distracted.  Here are some ideas to help you brainstorm in groups.

  • Write a Question on a Piece of Paper Give Everyone 30 Seconds to Answer

  • Give Each Person 10 Minutes to Write on a Topic: After 10 minutes has switched everyone passes their paper to the right and the next person builds on their ideas.

5. Grab a Pen and Piece of Paper

Sometimes the best way to get your creative juices flowing is to put pen to paper and see where writing or doodling takes you.

  • Set a Time: Specify a specific amount of time that you’re going to brainstorm on a certain question, problem or situation. Only write and brainstorm on that topic for the allotted amount of time and don’t go over.

  • Don’t Stop Writing: For whatever amount of time you’ve set aside don’t stop writing the entire time. Even if it doesn’t initially seem to be a good idea or notes or anything keep writing, and eventually it will come.

  • Come Up with a Format for Your Writing: If you’re going to spend time brainstorming, you want to make sure that it’s time well spent. Choose a format for your brainstorming session and then get to work. Here are some ideas to get you started:

    • 100 Things: Develop a list of 100 ways to solve the problem you’re working on.

    • Free Write: Just start writing everything that comes to mind when you’re looking at a certain topic or idea.

    • Pros/Cons: Spend your time writing a pros and cons list, look at the positives and the negatives and just keep the ball rolling until you spent the allotted amount of time.

    • Reverse Thinking: What would someone typically do to solve this problem? Now, spend your time writing the exact opposite of a typical response to this situation.

    • Start/End: Write your current situation as your starting place, and your goal situation at the end. Spend your time writing all of the steps it takes to reach your goal destination.

6. Open Yourself Up to New Experiences


Constantly be open to new ideas and perspectives. Every week try doing something you’ve never done before, be it crafting and creating a knitted sweater to learning a new language, to taking up a new hobby. Try new things, eat foods you’ve never tasted before, and get your learn on.

Things to Try:

  • Read a New Book: Read a book on a topic of interest or something you know nothing about. Check out Amazon’s Best Seller List and What Should I Read Next? for some ideas.

  • Meet New People and Try New Things: Attend a Meet-Up near you to meet people with similar or opposite interests, discover cool things, and have new experiences.

  • Take a Class: Learn something like web design and development online from Learnable, or take a free online course in the topic of your choice on Open Course.

  • Learn a New Skill: Discover cool new skills on Skill Share from some of the most talented individuals and make something new with Instructables.

While they may not appear to be traditional tips for holding effective brainstorming sessions, these are the ways that I find help me come up with and generate the best ideas. Techniques like mind maps are great, but the only way you’re going to be able to come up with innovative and new ideas is to expose yourself to everything already out there. Do you have any brainstorming tricks and tips that help you generate awesome ideas? Let me know in the comments below!

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Posted by Maryam Taheri

Like a true San Franciscan, Maryam has a passion for dogs and the Giants. She heads up Content Marketing at where she writes about all things creative. You can find her on twitter at @caracaleo.

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